Leigh Tait

Leigh Tait
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research | NIWA · Centre for Coasts and Oceans

PhD
Marine scientist interested in data driven solutions to the complex challenges faced by marine ecosystems

About

50
Publications
16,889
Reads
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782
Citations
Citations since 2017
35 Research Items
681 Citations
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Introduction
Marine ecologist specialising in ecophysiology and the application of remote and in situ sampling techniques for better understanding spatial and temporal variation in ecological structure and the physiological functioning of diverse assemblages
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - present
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Position
  • Marine Ecologist
December 2012 - November 2013
University of Canterbury
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 2011 - December 2012
Oregon State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (50)
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Aotearoa New Zealand is the last major landmass settled by people, and therefore provides a recent record of ecological legacy effects in the coastal zone. Large‐scale land clearances of forests accelerated over the last century, affecting the concentration of suspended sediments, light environment, and nutrient composition on rocky reefs,...
Article
Full-text available
Long-term (decadal) records of microplankton provide insights into how lower trophic levels of coastal ecosystems respond to nutrient enrichment, over and above shorter-term variability. We used a 15-year seasonal census in the Firth of Thames, a deep, nutrient-enriched estuary in northeastern Aotearoa/New Zealand, to determine microplankton respon...
Article
Full-text available
With climate heating, Aotearoa New Zealand is expected to experience more marine heatwaves (MHW) in the coming decades. These extreme events are already impacting the island nation's marine and coastal environments and marine industries at a variety of scales. There will potentially be substantial benefits in developing an early warning system–spec...
Article
Full-text available
Marine heatwaves (MHWs) can cause dramatic changes to ecologically, culturally, and economically important coastal ecosystems. To date, MHW studies have focused on geographically isolated regions or broad-scale global oceanic analyses, without considering coastal biogeographical regions and seasons. However, to understand impacts from MHWs on diver...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Ecologists traditionally study how contemporary local processes, such as biological interactions and physical stressors, affect the distribution and abundance of organisms. By comparison, biogeographers study the distribution of the same organisms, but focus on historic, larger-scale processes that can cause mass mortalities, such as earthquake...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the resilience and recovery processes of coastal marine ecosystems is of increasing importance in the face of increasing disturbances and stressors. Large-scale, catastrophic events can re-set the structure and functioning of ecosystems, and potentially lead to different stable states. Such an event occurred in south-eastern New Zeala...
Article
Full-text available
Marine heatwaves (MHW) are becoming stronger and more frequent across the globe. MHWs affect the thermal physiology of all biological organisms, but wider ecosystem effects are particularly impactful when large habitat-forming foundation species such as kelps are affected. Many studies on impacts from MHWs on kelps have focused on temperature effec...
Article
Full-text available
Coastal marine ecosystems are under stress, yet actionable information about the cumulative effects of human impacts has eluded ecologists. Habitat-forming seaweeds in temperate regions provide myriad irreplaceable ecosystem services, but they are increasingly at risk of local and regional extinction from extreme climatic events and the cumulative...
Data
Full-text available
Marine heatwaves (MHW) are becoming stronger and more frequent across the globe. MHWs affect the thermal physiology of all biological organisms, but wider ecosystem effects are particularly impactful when large habitat-forming foundation species such as kelps are affected. Many studies on impacts from MHWs on kelps have focused on temperature effec...
Article
Full-text available
The November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake reshaped the coastal landscape causing significant impacts on the coastline and marine ecosystems. This article provides an overview of the coastal recovery process three and half years later based on results from an intensive monitoring programme across 130 km of coast.
Article
Full-text available
Predicting and managing the potential economic, social, and ecological impacts of bioinvasions is a key goal of non-indigenous species (NIS) research worldwide. The marine fan worm, Sabella spallanzanii, is an ecosystem engineering NIS that forms dense filter-feeding canopies on hard substrata and large clumps of individuals in soft sediment habita...
Article
Full-text available
Predicting the effects of invasive ecosystem engineering species in new bioregions has proved elusive. In part this is because separating biological effects from purely physical mechanisms has been little studied and yet could help predict potentially damaging bioinvasions. Here we tested the effects of a large bio-engineering fanworm Sabella spall...
Article
Full-text available
The Mediterranean fanworm, Sabella spallanzanii, is listed as an introduced and established “unwanted species” in New Zealand, subject to nationwide targeted surveillance in port, marina, urban and natural environments. Sabella spallanzanii has the potential to change soft-sediment benthic habitats due to the physical presence of the fanworm's tube...
Article
Full-text available
Developments in the capabilities and affordability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have led to an explosion in their use for a range of ecological and agricultural remote sensing applications. However, the ubiquity of visible light cameras aboard readily available UAVs may be limiting the application of these devices for fine-scale, high taxonom...
Poster
Full-text available
The November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake uplifted rocky reef habitat causing mass mortality of kelps and associated organisms. • Kelps are ecosystem engineers, greatly modifying their surroundings and favoring productive and diverse ecosystems. • Identifying thresholds of sedimentation impacting the resilience of kelp will inform ecosystem based mana...
Article
• The Mw 7.8 earthquake that struck the north‐east coast of the South Island of New Zealand in November 2016 caused extensive upheaval, of up to 6 m, over 110 km of coastline. Intertidal habitats were greatly affected with extensive die‐off of algal communities, high mortalities of benthic invertebrates, and greatly reduced ecosystem functioning, s...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Marine High Risk Site Surveillance (MHRSS) is a national programme of surveys targeted at the early detection of high-risk marine non-indigenous species (NIS). The primary objective of the MHRSS programme is to detect incursions of new-to-New Zealand non-indigenous organisms listed on the Unwanted Organisms Register in New Zealand ports and mar...
Article
Full-text available
Detailed research has documented gradual changes to biological communities attributed to increases in global average temperatures. However, localized and abrupt temperature anomalies associated with heatwaves may cause more rapid biological changes. We analyzed temperature data from the South Island of New Zealand and investigated whether the hot s...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The availability of reactive treatment tools to treat or clean vessels of unwanted marine biofouling is an important requirement for effectively managing marine biosecurity risks at the New Zealand border. Standardised treatments for the external planar surfaces of vessel hulls are available but vessel ‘niche areas’—prone to accelerated biofouling...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A variety of treatment approaches have been assessed previously for reactive treatment of vessel pipework, and related scenarios. The current project reviewed the literature and consulted industry experts to summarise existing information pertaining to: vessel pipework configurations; relative biosecurity risks; and candidate treatment approaches....
Article
Replacement of kelp and fucoid forests by low biomass turfing communities or urchin barrens has been identified in temperate marine ecosystems worldwide. Variation in the mechanisms of decline (e.g., urchin grazing, temperature stress) and apparent driving stressors (e.g., overfishing, sedimentation, global warming) has greatly limited the developm...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Marine infrastructure can favor the spread of non-indigenous marine biofouling species by providing a suitable habitat for them to proliferate. Cryptic organisms or those in early life stages can be difficult to distinguish by conventional morphological taxonomy. Molecular tools, such as metabarcoding, may improve their detection. In this...
Article
Full-text available
Shallow coastal rocky reefs worldwide have faced large-scale loss of biodiversity, yet little is known about the contributions of highly diverse multi-layered autotrophic species to ecosystem function over long periods. In this study we tested the role of functional diversity on net primary productivity (NPP) of macroalgal assemblages in one-off, a...
Conference Paper
The stochastic nature of marine bioinvasions makes predicting the next invasive arrival impossible. While several authorities regularly monitor for specific unwanted organisms, numerous species with similar physical, physiological or ecological traits may be equally damaging to values of marine ecosystems. To actively control an incursion, a fast r...
Chapter
Full-text available
The magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake of November 2016 impacted over 100 km of coastline, lifting rocky reef by up to 6 m. These events exposed vast areas of intertidal and subtidal rocky reef with dramatic effects to the habitat-forming kelp and fucoid species, and invertebrate species, including the highly valued paua. In this special issue we de...
Article
Early detection is important for successful management of invasive species, but optimising monitoring systems to detect multiple species from different taxonomic groups remains a major challenge. Settlement plates are often used to monitor non-indigenous marine species (NIMS) associated with vessel biofouling, but there have been few assessments of...
Article
Vessel hulls and underwater infrastructure can be severely impacted by marine biofouling. Knowledge on which abiotic conditions of artificial structures influence bacterial and eukaryotic community composition is limited. In this study, settlement plates with differing surface texture, orientation and copper-based antifouling coatings were deployed...
Conference Paper
Subtidal soft-sediment habitats in the Waitemata Harbour have changed substantially since they were surveyed by AWB Powell in the 1930s. By the 1990s, areas once dominated by native species were observed to be dominated by non-indigenous bivalves from Asia (Hayward et al. 1997), such Arcuatula (Musculista) senhousia, Limaria orientalis, and Theora...
Cover Page
Full-text available
In this volume we describe the application of photorespirometry and chlorophyll a fluorescence to integrate multiple stressors on complex macroalgal assemblages
Article
Global declines of macroalgal beds in coastal waters have prompted a plethora of studies attempting to understand the drivers of change within dynamic nearshore ecosystems. Photosynthetic measurements are good tools for assessing the consequences of numerous stressors of macroalgae, but there is somewhat of a disconnection between studies that focu...
Article
Global declines of macroalgal beds in coastal waters have prompted a plethora of studies attempting to understand the drivers of change within dynamic nearshore ecosystems. Photosynthetic measurements are good tools for assessing the consequences of numerous stressors of macroalgae, but there is somewhat of a disconnection between studies that focu...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive species can have significant impacts on the diversity and productivity of recipient ecological communities. The kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Harvey) Suringar is one of the world’s most successful invasive species but, although its purported impacts are strong, there is little empirical evidence that it displaces native species. Furthermore, a...
Article
Full-text available
Phototrophs underpin most ecosystem processes, but to do this they need sufficient light. This critical resource, however, is compromised along many marine shores by increased loads of sediments and nutrients from degraded inland habitats. Increased attenuation of total irradiance within coastal water columns due to turbidity is known to reduce spe...
Article
As a result of anthropogenic habitat degradation worldwide, coastal ecosystems are increasingly dominated by low-lying, turf-forming species, which proliferate at the expense of complex biogenic habitats such as kelp and fucoid canopies. This results in dramatic alterations to the structure of the associated communities and large reductions in prim...
Article
Increasing absorption of CO2 by the world's oceans is lowering seawater pH and may have severe consequences for marine calcifying organisms. Understanding the ecological consequences of anthropogenic CO2 emissions will require examination of how calcifying organisms and their associated communities respond to natural variation in CO2 concentration....
Presentation
As a result of anthropogenic habitat degradation, coastal ecosystems worldwide are increasingly dominated by low-lying turf-forming species, especially geniculate coralline algae. These are often described as alternative states to macroalgal beds and are linked to anthropogenic disturbance, such as increasing sedimentation. Little is known, however...
Article
Full-text available
Rising global temperatures caused by human-mediated change has already triggered significant responses in organismal physiology, distribution and ecosystem functioning. Although the effects of rising temperature on the physiology of individual organisms are well understood, the effect on community-wide processes has remained elusive. The fixation o...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods: The increase in atmospheric CO2 leading to ocean acidification is expected to impact the physiology of many calcifying organisms. Although the impacts of acidification may be widespread, the regions likely to observe the greatest pH changes are cooler temperate waters. Furthermore, regions of strong up-welling may exper...
Article
Full-text available
Macroalgal assemblages are some of the most productive systems on earth and they contribute significantly to nearshore ecosystems. Globally, macroalgal assemblages are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic activities such as sedimentation, eutrophication and climate change. Despite this, very little research has considered the potential effects...
Article
Full-text available
Macroalgae are undoubtedly a major supplier of organic carbon to marine food webs, yet few studies have attempted to examine primary production in complex macroalgal communities. Many studies have tested the photosynthetic characteristics of single species with little attention given to the associated algal assemblages. The role of canopy structure...
Article
Full-text available
Photorespirometry has long been used to examine primary production of aquatic micro-and macroalgae. Despite a growing number of studies examining in situ primary production in soft sediment ecosystems, little has been done to test in situ primary production on rocky reefs. This disparity may be due, in part, to a lack of a suitable photorespirometr...
Article
Since the first report of their natriuretic effect on mammalian kidneys the relative influences of natriuretic peptides (NPs) on volume and salt regulation in vertebrates have been debated. As marine osmoconformers, with plasma ionic concentrations similar to seawater, the actions of NPs on hagfishes may provide information on their primordial role...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
I am investigating the availability of benthic light for coastal ecosystems overall New Zealand, and especially for underwater forests. I am making use of the remote sensing of light via satellite measurements. I am furthermore interested in how a change in the light environment can drive valuable communities to shift towards alternative ones.
Project
To understand the relationship between macroalgal species richness and primary productivity in complex natural assemblages, and the mechanisms responsible for synergies in resource use.
Project
Expansion of global trade networks has greatly increased the pool of potential invasive species available for transport. Consequently, a large proportion of species detected have no prior history invasion and often little available biological information. Our aim in this project is to produce a framework for prioritizing impacts of invasive species using expert elicitation to fill in knowledge gaps about the potential impacts relating to specific traits.